“The Obstacle Is The Way” Quotes

I recently read “The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph” by Ryan Holiday. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. As always, if you like the quotes, please buy the book here.

Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 5.57.46 PM“Through our perception of events, we are complicit in the creation – as well as the destruction – of every one of our obstacles.” (22)
“Real strength lies in the control or, as Nasim Taleb put it, the domestication of one’s emotions, not in pretending they don’t exist.” (30)
“Epictetus told his students, when they’d quote some great thinker, to picture themselves observing the person having sex. It’s funny, you should try it the next time someone intimidates you or makes you feel insecure.” (34)
“Take your situation and pretend it is not happening to you. Pretend it is not important, that it doesn’t matter. How much easier would it be for you to know what to do? How much more quickly and dispassionately could you size up the scenario and its options?” (35)
“When you can break apart something, or look at it form some new angle, it loses its power over you.” (36)
“One meeting is nothing in a lifetime of meetings, one deal is just one deal. In fact, we may have actually dodged a bullet. The next opportunity might be better.” (38)
“Everything changed for George Clooney when he tried a new perspective. He realized that casting is an obstacle for producers, too – they need to find somebody, and they’re all hoping that the next person to walk in the room is the right somebody. Auditions were a chance to solve their problem, not his.
From Clooney’s new perspective, he was that solution. He wasn’t going to be someone groveling for a shot. He was someone with something special to offer. He was the answer to their prayers, not the other way around. That was what he began projecting in his auditions – not exclusively his acting skills but that he was the man for the job. That he understood what the casting director and producers were looking for in a specific role and that he would deliver it in each and every situation, in preproduction, on camera, and during promotion.” (39)
“Most people start from disadvantage (often with no idea they are doing so) and do just fine. It’s not unfair, it’s universal. Those who survive it, survive because they took things day by day – that’s the real secret.” (46)
“One thing is certain. It’s not simply a matter of saying: Oh, I’ll live in the present. You have to work at it. Catch your mind when it wanders – don’t let it get away from you. Discard distracting thoughts.” (48)
“Remember that this moment is not your life, it’s just a moment in your life. Focus on what is in front of you, right now. Ignore what it “represents” or it “means” or “why it happened to you.”” (48)
“Steve Jobs refused to tolerate people who didn’t believe in their own abilities to succeed.” (51)
“Take that longtime rival at work, the one who causes endless headaches? Note the fact that they also:
– keep you alert
– raise the stakes
– motivate you to prove them wrong
– harden you
– help you to appreciate true friends
– provide an instructive antilog – an example of whom you don’t want to become” (56)
“The struggle against an obstacle inevitably propels the fighter to a new level of functioning. The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.” (57)
“It’s a huge step forward to realize that the worst thing to happen is never the event, but the event and losing your head. Because then you’ll have two problems.” (60)
“Boldness is acting anyway, even though you understand the negative and the reality of your obstacle.” (60)
“Sure, Demosthenes lost the inheritance he’d been born with, and that was unfortunate. But in the process of dealing with this reality, he created a far better one – one that could never be taken from him.” (67)
“In persistence, he’d not only broken through: In trying it all the wrong ways, Grant discovered a totally new way – the way that would eventually win the war.” (77)
“Knowing that eventually – inevitably – one will work. Welcoming the opportunity to test and test and test, grateful for the priceless knowledge this reveals.” (78)
“We’re usually skilled and knowledgeable and capable enough. But do we have the patience to refine our idea? The energy to beat on enough doors until we find investors or supporters? The persistence to slog through the politics and drama of working with a group?” (79)
“Epictetus: “persist and resist.” Persist in your efforts. Resist giving in to distraction, discouragement, or disorder.” (80)
“Failure shows us the way – by showing us what isn’t the way.” (86)
“Don’t think about the end – think about surviving.” (88)
“But you, you’re so busy thinking about the future, you don’t take any pride in the tasks you’re given right now.” (94)
“Forget the rule book, settle the issue.” (99)
“I you’ve got an important mission, all that matters is that you accomplish it.” (100)
“Think progress, not perfection.” (102)
“In a study of some 30 conflicts comprising more than 280 campaigns from ancient to modern history, the brilliant strategist and historian B. H. Liddell Hart came to a stunning conclusion: In only 6 of the 280 campaigns was the decisive victory a result of a direct attack on the enemy’s main army.” (104)
“When you’re at your wit’s end, straining and straining with all your might, when people tell you you look like you might pop a vein… Take a step back, then go around the problem. Find some leverage. Approach from what is called the “line of least expectation.” (105)
“We wrongly assume that moving forward is the only way to progress, the only way we can win. Sometimes, staying put, going sideways, or moving backward is actually the best way to eliminate what blocks or impedes your path.” (112)
“We act out, instead of act.” (116)
“If you think it’s simply enough to take advantage of the opportunities that rise in your life, you will fall short of greatness. Anyone sentient can do that. What you must do is learn how to press forward precisely when everyone around you sees disaster.” (119)
“Ordinary people shy away form negative situations, just as they do with failure. They do their best to avoid trouble. What great people do is the opposite. They are their best in these situations. They turn personal tragedy or misfortune – really anything, everything – to their advantage.” (120)
“It’s much easier to control our perceptions and emotions than it is to give up our desire to control other people and events.” (132)
“Could you actually handle yourself if things suddenly got worse?” (135)
“About the worst thing that can happen is not something going wrong, but something going wrong and catching you by surprise.” (143)
“It doesn’t feel that way but constraints in life are a good thing. Especially if we can accept them and let them direct us. They push us to places and to develop skills that we’d otherwise never have pursued.” (145)
“If someone we knew took traffic signals personally, we would judge them insane. Yet this is exactly what life is doing to us. It tells us to come to a stop here. Or that some intersection is blocked or that a particular road has been rerouted through an inconvenient detour. We can’t argue or yell this problem away. We simply accept it.” (145)
“Love everything that happens: amor fati.” (150)
“To do great things, we need to be able to endure tragedy and setbacks. We’ve got to love what we do and all that it entails, good and bad. We have to learn to find joy in every single thing that happens.” (151)
“The Germans have a word for it: Sitzfleisch. Staying power. Winning by sticking your ass to the seat and not leaving until after it’s over.” (157)
“There are more failures in the world due to a collapse of will than there will ever be from objectively conclusive external events.” (158)
“Whatever you’re going through, whatever is holding you down or standing in your way, can be turned into a source of strength – by thinking of people other than yourself.” (165)
“Stop pretending that what you’re going through is somehow special or unfair. Whatever trouble you’re having – no matter how difficult – is not some unique misfortune picked out especially for you. It just is what it is.” (165)
“One does not overcome an obstacle to enter the land of no obstacles.” (172)
“On the contrary, the more you accomplish, the more things will stand in your way. There are always more obstacles, bigger challenges. You’re always fighting uphill. Get used to it and train accordingly.” (173)
“Passing one obstacle simply says you’re worthy of more.” (173)
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